It would be easy to dismiss many sequels to popular horror films as nothing more than an easy cash-grab for studios especially if the sequel in question is called The Last Exorcism Part II (2013). Most of the time the Studio will just rehash everything from the first film that made it popular in order to entice audiences about the sequel. This is not the case with this film as it takes a completely different approach to the subject matter from the previous film. The previous find was in the style of a documentary or “found footage” type film and the protagonist was the faux exorcist but this new film is done in the style of a typical “film” while focusing on the object of the first film – Nell (played to perfection by Ashley Bell who reprises her role).
This film finds Nell after the events of the first film in which she is unaware of everything that happened. She is taken in by the state and put into a half way house with several other young girls where she tries to piece together her new life. She finds new friends and falls for a co-worker but deep down inside something monstrous lives and stirs just beneath the surface waiting and wanting to get out. This is a coming of age film for Nell and the evil that lies beneath. Written by Damien Chazelle and Ed Gass-Donnelly (who also directs) this film is a slow burn in the fashion of Carrie (1976) or Rosemary’s Baby (1968) which works well for the material. This allows for Bell to shine as she takes to Nell like Sissy Spacek took to Carrie White but unlike that film there is no payoff at the end.
One of the most memorial parts of Carrie is the fantastic ending in which all hell breaks loose. This is the big payoff for a film that had up to then had been very subtle. The first The Last Exorcism was very much like this in which the ending was something that no one saw coming and it was larger than life. This is the failing with this sequel; after all this great build up and execution the ending fizzles out opting to have most of the carnage seen off screen rather than actually showing it in order to have that good punch at the end that all slow burning films must have in order to get their point across. For some unexplainable reason all the real moments of payoff for Nell’s character are shown off-screen which diminishes the film’s overall impact. Bell is good but she can’t save the horrible and unsatisfying ending to the film. I’ve never seen such a complete let down of a climax of a film.
This being said, Bell still does a fantastic job and if you are a fan of hers than the film is worth taking a look at but overall this film has a great set up with one of the worst ending for a horror film in recent memory.